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Last Updated:  Friday, 28 February, 2003, 10:58 GMT
Blood claims IVF paternity victory
Diane Blood with her sons
Mrs Blood outside court with Liam and Joel after winning their case
Diane Blood, who fought for the right to have children using her dead husband's sperm, has claimed victory in her legal battle to have her late partner legally recognised as the father.

Mrs Blood, 36, from Worksop, Nottinghamshire, wanted her dead husband to be recognised as the father of her two children, Liam, four, and Joel, who was born seven months ago.

Her husband, Stephen, died from bacterial meningitis after falling into a coma in 1995.

It is important that the birth certificates tell the truth and not a lie
Diane Blood
Under the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act, which controls all test tube births, when the sperm of a man or an embryo created after his death is used, he is not considered the father of the child.

But lawyers for Health Secretary Alan Milburn accepted at the High Court on Friday that the law was "incompatible" with the European Convention on Human Rights.

The admission could lead to a change in the law to allow Liam and Joel to have their deceased father on their birth certificates.

At the moment their paternal details are left blank, as if they were unknown.

A private members' bill is now due for a second reading on March 28 which, if successful, will change domestic law so that it complies with both the human rights convention and the Human Rights Act.

Birth certificates

If the Bill fails, like an earlier attempt to amend the law, the Health Secretary will then have to decide whether or not to adopt a "fast track" procedure under section 10 of the Human Rights Act to give effect to Friday's ruling.

Mrs Blood said after the hearing: "I'm obviously delighted it is now acknowledged that our human rights had been breached for a considerable time, and the children's rights with regard to their birth certificates have been breached.

"It means everything to me. It is important that the birth certificates tell the truth and not a lie.

"It means that my two children will be recognised as full brothers, and not just half brothers, which is what their birth certificates show at the moment.

"And it has implications for the rest of my late husband's family in that they will be acknowledged as full paternal relations."

Other families affected

Mrs Blood said the ruling would affect about 40 to 50 families plus five to 10 a year where children were conceived posthumously.

When she was pregnant with Joel, she spoke of her sadness that the law failed to recognise her late husband as Liam's father.

"The new child's birth certificate, like that of Liam, must show the father as unknown, which of course couldn't be further from the truth," she said.

The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority refused to allow her to conceive using Stephen's sperm.

This decision was upheld in the High Court, but the Court of Appeal allowed her to have IVF treatment using her dead husband's sperm in a foreign clinic.

Mrs Blood was joined in court by another mother fighting the same cause.

Joanne Tarbuck, from Higher Kinnerton, near Chester, Cheshire, used the sperm of her dead husband Martin to conceive Jonathan, now five.

The judge, Mr Justice Sullivan roundly criticised the actions of the Department of Health in allowing the case to come to court.

It was not the Department's "most shining hour", he said.

Diane Blood
"The law has be changed to allow my late husband to be named on my children's birth certificates"

Blood to challenge test tube law
26 Feb 03 |  England
Diane Blood has second baby
17 Jul 02 |  England
Diane Blood pregnant again
08 Feb 02 |  England

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